Scotiabank puts desktops on a diet

Scotiabank desperately needed to break the cycle of its relentless desktop upgrades and refreshes.

J.P. Savage, the company’s senior vice-president of systems, operations and technical services, admitted that Scotiabank’s 20,000 services representatives, spread across 1,000 locations, were a frustrated community. Their problems had everything to do with poorly performing IT as a result of desktop technology that was seriously outdated.

The spectre of having to endure yet another major desktop lifecycle refresh that would ultimately put the company in the same position down the road was a scenario that troubled Savage.

Speaking at the Citrix Strategy Day in New York City in April, he told an audience of about 100 financial analysts and journalists: “We were at the end of this cycle and users were growing frustrated. The performance was slow and seriously affecting our customer services success.”

Savage said he needed a better way — other than the vicious cycle of a “WinTel” upgrade to refresh “fat clients.” He wanted to “focus on a new desktop paradigm,” and was looking to keep a low-cost IT delivery model and also improve branch productivity.

The better way was a move to a thin-client model, powered by a centralized server farm that housed most of the applications that resided on the desktops. The move allowed Savage to cut in half his cost of operations over a five-year period. The approach also extended the installed PC lifecycle since most of Scotiabank’s hardware was powerful enough for thin-client usage “once I got all the junk off my desktops,” Savage said.

Transitioning to a server environment, where the bulk of applications and data resided, made the desktop environment much faster and allowed the bank to do more with its customer support staff. “By delivering them the improvements in productivity … it translates into (additional) sales revenue,” Savage noted.

The new environment, powered by Citrix remote control and collaboration software, was also much simpler to manage. It’s a lot easier and faster to maintain third-party software on 120 servers. It previously took between seven and nine months to deploy new applications and upgrades on 20,000 desktops. Similar upgrades can now be done over a weekend, Savage said.

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